Oceans in Davenport

Blood drips and ripples and mixes with rain, men and women with callusing hands grin And grimace at a gratifying pain.

Fifty pounds, thud. Fifty, the pounds thud. Fifty pounds thud.
The weight of saving your house.

It could be that god is drunk, or suddenly embattled with blindness.
For he’s raining metamorphosis on the earth, but he’s uncharacteristically clumsy today.

Often his shifting finds us in the gentle crawl from an aging chrysalis,
A peaceful prison break, filmed in slow motion,
Ambitions saying simply, “I no longer fit in this.”

Or beneath our feet the wits of stones are primed against each other,
A rocky tectonic chess, at the fingers of a timid trinity, negotiating strategies with the great plates of earth,

Stirring a fire deep, god the blacksmith draws pieces from the depths,
Holding magma in his palm until it cools into the versatile tyrrany of one tall and Temptuous queen.

He shapes her crown and names it Himalaya and sets her to war with the mountains west.
Invisible underfoot the plates dance and whisper in taunt and jeer,
Black space to white space kitty-corner mockery.
The soil trembles in anticipation of the next most perfect move.

And on the earth at any time is an audience honored with survival,
The humbled few fortunate enough not to have wandered too near to the temperamental Hand of our nature’s selection.

Where the sea’s populations play and hunt in miles of dark water so cryptic,
That land dwellers console themselves, insisting the deep mystery is peaceful, benevolent, Pacific.

The tedious forces of life spin molecules together, laying grand wagers upon minutia,
Casting lots on the assets of those who will perish when they fail to understand why its

If you dare learn from that which is deaf and mute and blind,
Then hold your life as poetry to the forests and present yourself as a student to the magic That stirs there.

The sluggish looms which phantoms laid in the soils at a time long past,
Spin now with a grace that weaves roots into trees, the guardians of an ancient artistry, Clothed in the garments of treatise composed in prehistory.

But today the divinator has no answer.

Change now raps on the city gate, holding our expectations impaled on a stake,
A conqueror it comes to plunder and take, torches alight by the black gold of this place.

Where before it whispered that art is in the ebb and slow tide of inanimacy,
It now reminds us that the devil just sits adorned in his favorite mask of complacency.

From everywhere the ocean comes, places before it never rested,
My garden my farm my fields my stock, my home, my life, drowned.

It rose from the dirt, came rudely from the sky, it melted from the white linings of winter.
Planets probed to retaliation spawns seas in spontaneity.

Thud. God pulls the bottle from his lips. Thud. In a daze he asks, “what is this clenched in my grip?”
Thud. He looks and sees a pale blue blip. Thud. The place where the earth has stood.

Thud. A crimson creek permeates the river and runs into my neighbors boot. Thud. We’ve slowed our pace unlike the rivers haste which continues unabated under this moon – if only scientists could’ve predicted this.

Sigh. I watch a blister ooze its defeat, commencing a pitiful forfeit. From his mailbox my partner sails a fishing boat till it runs aground on his front step.

On Pornography

In envy I look at the freedom and controversial release that causes the Primavera’s characters to rebel. I stand under the Sistine ceiling, recognizing that had I lived earlier I could have surrounded myself with these same figures in their original nude – and I smile. I walk through the Century Project’s 100 portraits of the female nude – young girls to old women. The history that accompanies their words accompanying their bodies astounds me, and the way they have found shape by the guiding hands of biology humbles our greatest architects. I look at a world of men and women, their emotions and bodies juxtaposed in an industry of fantasy we’ve come to call pornography, never claiming that I haven’t used it or walked away and returned to it, and I grimace.

I am not blind to the prude air of foisted sophistication that accompanies those who condemn the world of erotica. I understand how individuals who long to free themselves from the confinements of a society monitored and scrutinized by big brother institutions seemingly cannot reject some of those institutions’ standards and cling still to others. It seems that the soul needs to recklessly abandon those things unconducive of life and profundity without exception or hostage. Sexual freedom and sexual autonomy is pivotal in this way. For centuries the grips of social norm and the glare and gaze of a Church which forges that social norm has ostracized the very spirit that gives our race a future – the spirit of sexuality. For as long as there has been a standard of decency there has been a list of those things acceptable and unacceptable which all decent people must follow. To this list has rarely been added those things which make the Sistine ceiling marvelous in content and legend, which make skinny dipping and sleeping naked beautiful and worthy of anticipation, which grant to every body – no matter its shape or presentation – the awe it deserves. The harnesses of a misguided morality have pinned down our wings and confined us to an existence of quiet missionary positions, of which we never speak of or giggle.

To this end sexual pioneers deserve commendation. Without a doubt they have worked to free a part of us as humans that yearns to roam untethered as deeply as that which wants for art and drastic escape and the seductions of music in all forms. But I have to ask, who are those pioneers? Who and what teaches us what sex can be and what sex has been and what sex might become? For the sake of the rebellion which leads us away from the fear and timidity of fundamentalism, we likewise cannot afford to lose sight of what we treasure as intimacy; we cannot move our eyes away from that place in front of us which holds out truth and real knowledge. I fear that we’re no better off accepting the standards of porn as we are accepting the criteria of ensnaring religiosity. The argument comes to ‘preference’ too often. For one, this should not be an argument but a discussion. It should be a conversation in which ideas about men and women, and men and men, and women and women coming together can prosper and be admired. There is a danger, I think, in assuming that the use of pornos can be reduced to personal preference which holds neutral value. Of course it has nothing to do with a condemning Trinity sitting at a judge’s bench somewhere beyond the cosmos, and socially defined sexual deviance is as oxymoronic as venial sin. It isn’t about achieving a grade. The rebellion against mediocre existence never is. It’s going about life in such a way that we prod those things that can stir our most inner convictions.

When you choose to run an empty beach and throw yourself at the waves isn’t it right that the water’s kiss against your naked body will singe the memory deeper than if you’d allowed your clothes to interfere? Life insists that rolling down the windows and letting in Night as you drive through her reflects a sort of existence that harbors epiphany and awe. To see the world when you’re in it – its people, its trees, its sky, its sounds and aromas – is to want life whether it seems to want you or not. To push sex away as a threat and imposter upon your purity cheapens our human condition. And to post sex on a billboard and a magazine and a computer is to take what few have fought so hard to liberate from visionless hands and place it in the palms of a different tyrant – one of blind profit and motives irreconcilable to the objectives of a soul’s rebellion.

Pornography is not art. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that two strangers humping each other like hormone-engorged ducks, at the direction of their neighbor with a camcorder, need be considered art. To be fashionably accepting of all interpretations of art is certainly a trend, and not necessarily a bad one, just obnoxious. If we can look at something and deduce that it was put together by some sort of cognitive plan and conclude that it is thus “art”, we’ve arrived a very sad place indeed. A place, in fact, where we might as well either abandon the word “thing” or the word “art” because redundancy can be flagrantly unbecoming. Let those artists capable of presenting the human nude in controversy or grace or violence or depression or ecstasy while evoking thought in their on-lookers, let them retain the title of ‘artist’. When porn becomes art we’ve sold out to the manipulators of our most primitive response – see it, have sex with it. Let’s be clear, it is not thought that porn provokes, and we only act like veteran consumers when we humor porn all the way into a classification such as “creative”.

Allied in Silence

Tonight I think I've realized something important. After writing a long entry to some friends about solitude and expression, about the wild and civilization, I realized that these thoughts too often come when I've had a few hours to think about them by myself. Its not that I need more talking to actual people, but perhaps that I need to spend more time in silence with others. Hours, perhaps many nights on end, where we act as if we were alone until something of substance arose, something of importance-enough that we break from our boxes and engage. I think about what would happen if instead of writing an email to someone to share a good thought at 2 in the morning, I just called instead. They might be pissed but there'd be dialogue. What, then, would it be like if I just went to them and woke them to speak right then. We'd have good tea and good insights. It'd be an allegiance of sorts; we'd be parties to a treaty. I won't waste your time with empty talk; I'll assume the same of you. But then when I wake you in the night you can assume its worth it, and you can rise and join me.

To Write About Such Things

Who are we to write about life? How dare we try and tame what is endless in the way that its wild? Well this is how we dare and why.

There are a dozen seats, filled by a dozen butts. Nine couch cushions, a broken sofa, a hammock and a lap. We are eclectic sitters. A woman leans in to engage a man, 3 cushions and a coffee table away. The painting on the wall isn't painting at all and these aren't walls they're people. We broke all the lights, ignited tiny flames; the walls hide in a background blackness and our faces, our chests, our moving mouths and shining eyes, have glow cast across them. And so our set changes when we wiggle, when we lean or laugh or move. We are the only structures here and the candles paint us. So when we move, the shape of the structure changes. And so the woman leans in and another man turns to listen and two walls, two walls of a dozen, are shifting their shape for conversation. This, I'm sure, is how houses are supposed to behave.

There's concern on the woman's lips, her fingers slip off a mug of mediocre wine to tell the man 3 cushions and a coffe table away what it looks like at the moment in her mind. Her wine ripples cause her hand shakes a bit; she's not nervous, she's restless. If only she could paint like candles do, free her thoughts from their twenty year slavery, offer onto the coffee table, centered in a twelve-walled room, the pure and potent story that's being authored behind her eyes - then the eleven walls would smile and cry - and their tears would change their shape, and the candles would know they're needed. Twelve walls with twelve wills all looking every day to light their little fires and provoke their neighbors to change shape. What can she say that brings him off his back to the edge of a couch? The man sits up toward her, hearing words like threads tying into his face, reeling him toward their source. The woman is changing walls. Its happening again and all twelve bodies know it, mass movement, the candles smile in excitement and agree to stay awake a little longer. The woman is overcome, her voice is the messenger from the piece of her inside her mind. A great garden stretched out beneath the dim sky of epiphany and awe. She has now, in her wandering, become lost in the garden, brushing aside the thistels and thorns which persuade so many to stay out of the thick, keeping to paths less wild. Eleven walls, now still and eager, listen to a woman, no longer fully present, as she screams truths from the garden inside.

It's beautiful, she finally says, standing solitary in grass and flower under star and moon, if only I could tell you, you eleven walls would crumble and weep sweet tears dripping down smiling mouths. It has happened for her, the eleven bodies know, they saw her leave the room and wander into the garden by way of a sentence spoken in the right meter, bouncing from word to right word until the beaten path no longer suited her. Deep red smiles look up from ceramic mugs at the smilers hovering above, watching this woman return to them from the garden. If only I could tell you all, she said, tell you all what I've seen there, she spoke through sobs, then I could move you, then I could change your shape. And eleven seats held eleven butts on eleven bodies all thinking of the gardens for whose description they dare to speak at all.

We are no one to write about life, about the forests of revelation, about the gardens which grow for our wandering under the great skies of epiphany; we are no one to write about such things, but we're the only ones to write about such things, the only ones screaming from the gardens into rooms which candles paint, and that is how and why we dare to write about such things.

Walling our World

Let me tell you about burnt orange paintings of wine bottles and hanging guitars whose heads are held by five hooks on a length of black wood. Let me tell you about magazine page after magazine page ripped from their bindings and tacked on college students' walls. Let me describe for you the evolution from a snobby resentment to an air of accepting harmony that dog hair in ubiquity leads you through. These are the things that wall our worlds.

Spoon collections, coasters, collages of holiday cards in the shape of christmass trees - our walls document our idiosyncracies. I love that humans try to recreate the quarters of their soul on the dry wall of their homes; it makes judging people that much more convenient. They allow us to foster our addictions to silence, to chaos, to practicality and utter eclectic futility. With their help we can pick our nose in peace and further the dialogues which, if considered technically, would all be considered monologues if that notion wasn't a bit frightening. We can masturbate, and we can put dirty underwear back on, shave our backs in secret and look at dirty pictures of the "wrong" sex. We can recite the same stanza till the words stop bitching. We can be a competitively legitimate hip hop king and project runway queen within minutes of each other. We can consider pizza rolls and a salad "good enough." The walls receive our fists and vases meant for the heads of cheating boyfriends. They wear crayons and poop and the Tonka-sized tracks of obscure farm machinery.

They peer at us in young love's songs, they know our professed count of "days depressed" is an order of magnitude smaller than the truth. They look over us as we grin at our acquired tastes and the company those tastes win for us. Forest green for the wall that holds my lover's back as I lift her skirt with kisses; smokey jazz-club-bar-light-blue for the wall next to the windows where the city always sits. But its not just the walls. Its the throw rug and the pillow that share you with your bed, the lamp that squiggles 'cause you were sick of being straight, the ceiling fan you leave on, even though you're cold, 'cause you have blankets and you like the 'wur.' This is the stuff of settling in, and the stuff of branching out. Sometimes I feel like even though it all doesn't judge me despite it knowing my weakness for ice cream, it would if it could. I wonder if the inhabitants of inantimate cages sooner or later defect to the nature of their walls, or if the stuff of synthetic habitats acquires vitality in discrete acts of jealous theft.